The jury in the coroner’s inquest into the death of miner Stephen Perry was presented with a dozen recommendations Wednesday for how to prevent deaths like Perry’s in closing statements at the close of the three-day inquiry.
The four-woman, one-man jury heard joint recommendations from Perry’s family, United Steelworkers and Vale; a USW recommendation to the Ministry of Labour; and six recommendations from Perry’s family.
Perry, 47, was from Corner Brook, NL, and 13 members of his large extended family attended the inquest this week, including his daughter, Brittany Boyd-Perry of Greater Sudbury.
The inquest heard from 15 witnesses that while Perry was a skilled and conscientious miner, and Vale’s mine safety standards are more stringent than required by law, something unexpected went wrong and Perry was killed.
The 16-year development miner died Jan. 29, 2012, at 12:15 p.m., when he was struck by 14 tons of “loose” or rock that fell off the face of a drift he was working at on the 4,250-foot level of Vale’s Coleman Mine.
Perry was operating an ANFO loader, a machine used to place powdered explosives (ammonium nitrate diesel fuel) in drilled holes to blast walls of rock and ore, when rock fell as he was in the basket of the loader.
Perry died of massive, crushing injuries to his head and chest. He was unresponsive, with no breathing or pulse, when he was found by his supervisor, Michael Johnson, after Perry hadn’t been heard from in two hours.
The face or front wall of the headway or area in which Perry was working was about 18 feet high and 32 feet wide, had a grid painted on it and holes drilled for explosives.
The inquest heard that Perry was just inches away from the face when rock broke away from the top left corner. When Perry was found, the floor of the area in front of his loader was covered with rocks, the largest weighing two tons. Some of the rocks had the white paint lines on them that had been applied by drillers.
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